In February 2020, we reported on a Starbucks- and McDonald’s-backed pilot program to do away with takeaway coffee cups entirely in favor of reusables. Now, nearly a year and a half (and one pandemic) later, the details and implementation of that pilot at McDonald’s have become a bit clearer.
As reported by Packaging Europe, the fast food chain’s reusable cups are made in collaboration with Loop, a company who creates and maintains reusable packaging for commercial services. The Loop cups will first appear in six McDonald’s locations around the UK: three in Northampton and three in neighboring Wellingborough, per the company’s website. Though not switching wholesale in the six participating stores, McDonald’s is incentivizing customers to take part in the program via discounted coffee.
After an initial £1 deposit upfront, will receive their hot or cold coffee in a Loop reusable cup along with a 20p discount. When the drink is done, they can then return the cup a Loop-branded collection bin—to be picked up and cleaned and sanitized by Loop—where customers will then receive another 20p discount to use their next reusable-cupped coffee purchase. After five cups of coffee, the customer has already recouped the initial deposit but will nonetheless continue to receive the 20p discount for as long as they continue on taking part in the reusables program.
The cups, designed by circular designed brand Circular&Co, are themselves made of recycled single-use coffee cups, so once they’ve reached their iterative limit, they get recycled and made into new reusable cups.
Per Packaging Europe, the pilot program is part of a larger initiative by McDonald’s to reduce the amount of waste it produces. Over the past few years they have taken sustainability steps that include removing plastic Happy Meal toys, moving away from plastic straws, McFlurry lids, and salad boxes, and switching “almost 90% of its packaging… from recycled or renewable sources,” with a goal of making all its packaging fully recyclable or compostable.
And while I can’t help but feel a way about McDonald’s devaluing (their already devalued) coffee as a means of promotion, the end goal of the program is worthwhile. And if successful, McDonald’s—one of the world’s largest coffee sellers with nearly 40,000 locations globally—could make a significant impact on the number of single-use cups that end up in landfills. It’s a promising proposition, and honestly, I’m lovin’ it.
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Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.